House & Garden
* this article courtesy of Paul Murray, from his collection.
BARBRA STREISAND COOKS
The actress' passion for food and antiques prompted her to create a kitchen memorable for "its great smells, its Victorian mood."
In her Manhattan apartment, Barbra Streisand, wife of actor Elliott Gould and mother of a baby boy, Jason, employs a full-time housekeeper-cook. But whenever her own crowded, irregular schedule allows (she is now filming "Funny Girl," to be followed by "Hello, Dolly!"), she loves nothing better than to slip into her kitchen, right, and "try out some fantastic recipe." Not in the least interested in the prosaic (pot roasts and such she leaves up to her housekeeper), she tackles such varied concoctions as chestnut pudding, an exotically prepared vegetable, or chocolate soufflé. But because she is fiercely professional and believes in perfectionism in everything, she modestly insists she is not a cook. Nevertheless, she equipped and decorated her kitchen entirely on her own with all the instincts of an expert.
Small as the room is—a drawback she can do nothing about—it is a splendidly complete cooking center, boasting an ample batterie de cuisine: copper-bottomed or French enameled cast-iron pots and casseroles; a special pan for omelettes which she makes with skill, often for breakfast; a collection of classic cooking aids ranging from a mortar and pestle to a prized set of stainless steel French chopping knives. And good organization compensates for lack of space. In the old-fashioned ceiling-high cupboards, supplies are arranged according to a system as strict as that in a supermarket. Spices are lined up in full view near the stove. Appliances are stored in a special cupboard, except for the frequently used blender, which is kept within easy reach on an open shelf.
Yet, for all its no-nonsense planning, the little kitchen has an engagingly warm feeling, "completely non-clinical" as Miss Streisand puts it. Since it was old-fashioned to begin with, she decided to emphasize this quality with Victoriana. She covered one wall with red patent leather, had a new floor of red tiles laid to match, then covered the remaining walls, ceiling, and cupboard fronts with Paisley wallpaper "because I adore Paisley." Her prized finishing touches—the Tiffany lamp, the old theatre prints, and the antique clock and apple peeler on the wall—she found rummaging in Manhattan antique stores.
( Photo: Willoughby)
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